Inquiries Into Effective Teaching

In the most recent issue of the Harvard Educational Review, Anthony Bryk, Heather Harding, and Sharon Greenberg report on a roundtable jointly sponsored by Teach For America and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  The authors brought together a group of scholars and practitioners with a broad range of perspectives and asked them to explore several questions related to the emerging national narrative on effective teachers: What is an effective teacher? How do we leverage this moment of enormous energy in produc­ing more effective teaching to advance meaningful improvements at scale? Where are the current sites of success? What can we learn from what is working?  Through this process, the authors sought to “illuminate and reimagine the current “nonsystem” in order to accelerate progress toward a wholly new approach to developing the teaching force our nation and our children need.”

The article is essentially an abridged transcript of the roundtable discussion, followed by closing commentary from Bryk and Greenberg.  They concluded that, though the voices in the discussion varied widely on many points, there was some common ground:

  1. There was a “broad endorsement” for improving teaching by placing a sharper focus on candidate selection, teacher knowledge and skill development, the immediate contexts where teachers work and learn to practice, and the larger institutional environment in which all this is embedded.
  2. The effective learning progressions for new teachers need to be detailed in practical terms, much like we are now attempting to do for K-12 students via the Common Core.
  3. Practical measurement tools need to be developed that schools, districts, and HR development organizations can use to introduce change, track progress, revise-retry, and continuously improve.  We need stronger capacities to learn collectively from innovation,  develop a common language for describing problems, create shared frameworks for guiding hypothesized solutions, and formalize common measures for testing progress, guiding revisions, and iterating toward higher standards.

To read the full article, please visit